Footnote Help

+7 votes
I'm working with another member on cleaning up some profiles and he posed a question that I didn't know the answer to and thought I would ask.

Is there a way to code the footnotes where we don't see the same footnote listed multiple times?

What I mean is, if you have one source but you cite it as a footnote many times in the biography, at the bottom under footnotes you get that same source listed repeatedly.  Is there a way for it to be cited several times in the bio but only once as a footnote?


in Policy and Style by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
recategorized by Keith Hathaway
Eowyn - I think this has been answered, but I couldn't follow the instructions very well. Lianne sent an e-mail in another forum that I could, so I wanted to share it here:

If you have multiple footnotes that are the same, they can be combined into one footnote. For the first one, enter something like <ref name="my tree">My tree</ref> and then whenever you want to reference that again, just use <ref name="my tree"/>. That way they'll all point to the same footnote at the bottom of the page. It looks a lot cleaner if you're referencing the same source multiple times.
just tried it & it's nice :D

If you wanted to play, Tom Bredehoft created as a place to try things out.

Cheers, Liz

4 Answers

+3 votes
At the end of a Bio notation if you put [1] for the first source sitation [2], [3] and so forth.  Then under ===Sources=== list your source sitations [1], [2] and [3] etc... ----You can use the same source several times and note it once. For instance, John Doe b xx Jan xxx Potsdam, St Lawrence, NYand bp xx Jan xxxx St John's Church, Potsdam, St Lawrence, NY. [1], [2].  Then under Sources for first sitation [1] Record of Town of Potsdam, St Lawrence, NY and [2] Record of St John's Church Potsdam, St Lawrence, NY.---If he was married in St John's Church [2], funeral at St John's Church [2]---I'm not sure why I cannot make paragraphs and line things up right.  Maybe it is my program.  Hope you get the jist of my answer.
by A B G2G6 Mach 4 (41.1k points)
I got the jist! I do like this idea a lot. I shared it with the member I mentioned
+2 votes
Some don't agree, but I don't like the footnotes at all, and I stopped using them altogether.  When I work on an older profile, I take them all out.  Here's what I do instead:

== Biography ==

=== Marriage ===

: Date:  27 Apr 1759
: Place:  Haddonfield, Gloucester, New Jersey.  Source: [[#S21]]
: Husband:  [[Edgerton-129|Thomas Edgerton]]
: Wife:  [[Saint-28|Elizabeth Saint]]
: Child:  [[Edgerton-128|Joseph Edgerton]]


* Source: <span id='S21'>S21</span> Title: [ Ancestral File].  Note: User submitted.

That gives you clickable links directly to the source for the item in question.  Hitting the Back button on the browser then takes you right back to where you were.  You can link the source like that an unlimited number of times and nothing ever gets added to the bottom of the page.
by Fred Remus G2G6 Mach 4 (40.7k points)

Rodney, you have truly incorporated EVERYTHING into that one.  smiley

It would take me a while to even enumerate all the different ways you can jump around that one with all the different types of links!  Maybe I'll take a shot at analyzing it later.  Right now, I need to sit for a while.  I'm feeling slightly dizzy.  smiley

I can see the advantages of Rodney's combination of sources and footnotes. That is what I was getting at earlier. Make a difference between the two. But the non-footnote links still look a bit clumsy. I think I would at least bracket them.

I'm not sure about narratives. Texts commonly have footnotes and bracketed references. That shouldn't look too bad. I'll experiment with one that has a narrative today.

Incidentally and as a sideline, I'm not convinced that narrative is the 'best' form of biography.. I have taken to doing a standard biography with key details and adding a further 'story' about the life if there is sufficient information. I don't want to lose key facts in a long narratibve.
As a new member trying to figure out how things work, I have noticed a lot of discussion about "Profiles".  Some people are putting ===Vitals=== at the top followed by ===Bio===, some have no ==Vitals==, etc..  There is a great deal of variation. And, with some of the neglected and/or merged ones, it seems that you just have to do the best that you can.  

I am not trying to suggest that any particular form is better than another but it would seem that anyone using or contemplating use of GEDcoms should know that most of the original <span id='xxx'> references probably came  from a GEDcom import. Much of our discussion about "Footnote" and "Source" styles is immaterial to the GEDcoms.  

I think it is a case of fighting with GEDcom imports or learning how they are trying to make profile generation easier.  Can any one describe this preferred formatting style (basic "Profile") generated by GEDcom?  Are there many variations? Those coming from would seem to be :
1 Biography
    •    1.1 Name
    •    1.2 Birth
    •    1.3 Death
    •    1.4 Residence
    •    1.5 Note
    •    1.6 Marriage
2 Sources
    •    2.1 Notes
    •    2.2 Acknowledgments

I am thinking that there would be less work to load the whole mess in a text editor.  Then you can easily search and replace blocks of information keep the basic <span id='xxx'> references in place.  Just make them look the way you want.  Any comments or suggestions will be appreciated?

Just a comment regarding your example. I have seen this before and always thought it strange. Why do you and others list children in a marriage record? Shouldn't the children be listed under Family instead of Marriage? I'm not being critical, just wondering why people do it that way?

I get Fred's comment about the link taking you right to the source but if it becomes a dead link or a link to a "pay" site that will be no good for many people. The actual reference should be spelled out on the page regardless of whether there is a possible link or not.

I wasn't exact sure who's example you were referring to but I think adding the children completes a "Family" unit created by the marriage.  It is another source citation in the broader sense of "citation" if you will, and helps to identify and keep similarly named couples straightened out. (The siblings and children info at the top of the profile show everyone that is actually linked in by marriages.  The Marriage section could just be text describing people you still need to find.)

What surprised me was seeing a Father, Mother and Siblings as well as Husband, Wife and Children in the "Marriage" section of the same auto-generated by a GEDCOM import.  Both families used the generic Husband, Wife and Child terms but it is easy to understand what is going on after getting over the shock.  I would normally only report on the immediate family and leave the Parents and Siblings to each parent's individual profiles but, now that I know it can be automated I am thinking about it.

Just in case Eugene was thinking of my example.

It is quite simple. It will be another thousand years before I manage to put all the children into Wikitree. Meanwhile at least they are listed in the profiles I've dealt with even if their own profiles aren't there yet.

Just to clarify, this is the example I was referring to the following posted by [[Remus-2|Fred Remus]] :

=== Marriage ===

: Date:  27 Apr 1759
: Place:  Haddonfield, Gloucester, New Jersey.  Source: [[#S21]]
: Husband:  [[Edgerton-129|Thomas Edgerton]]
: Wife:  [[Saint-28|Elizabeth Saint]]
: Child:  [[Edgerton-128|Joseph Edgerton]]

My point is that it seems strange to me to list a child, in this case [[Edgerton-128|Joseph Edgerton]], under a marriage citation for his parents. I think the child should be listed under === Family === or some other such field, after all the child has nothing to do with the marriage date and source unless the marriage information came from a birth record for the child. It is fine to list children in the biography but I just think listing them under the heading === Marriage === is confusing. List them under === Family ===.  

I have also seen parents of the married couple listed in a similar source and that too seems like a red herring to me unless the parents were the witnesses.

I really like putting children into the marriage information for the very simple reason that there can be more than one set of parents for offspring in one household, and the issue of that union is best distinguished from the issue of other unions.  In my work in the Vikings era, there are usually several wives and/or mistresses and many chldren attributed to the father in these unions.  When the siblings show up, they are all mixed together, and the only way to know the actual set of parents is to go into the mother's or father's profile and check. Having the children listed with the parents in the bio saves time and avoids confusion because it makes verifying the correct set of parents on the front page rather than inside links.  I am all for saving time.

I get your point Sheri. I would suggest something like the following

=== Marriage === 

: Date:  27 Apr 1759
: Place:  Haddonfield, Gloucester, New Jersey.  Source: [[#S21]] 
: Husband:  [[Edgerton-129|Thomas Edgerton]] 
: Wife:  [[Saint-28|Elizabeth Saint]] 

Children of this union
: Child:  [[Edgerton-128|Joseph Edgerton]]

+9 votes

The problem with this approach is if someone adds new cited text between cited text #2 and cited text #3. If you don't remember to change the reference to "See footnote 2", then that footnote is pointing to the wrong reference.

What a good idea, on the footnotes, I mean!  You see, this is what I love about Wikitree.  Great people, great ideas!

Here's what I figured out, and keep in mind, I am not a "coder".

Born 1805 at Smithville, NY<ref>NY Archives,pp 3 viewable at xxxwebsite</ref><ref>family bible</ref>

Christened January 1 1806 at Church in Albany, NY <ref>See footnote 2</ref> [This would be the #3 source and would only have a " See footnote 2" listed in it.


1. NY Archives, pp 3 viewable at xxxwebsite

2. Family Bible

3. See footnote 2


I like the footnotes, especially if they have a direct link, because when you are reading something, you can hit the footnote marker, go directly to that part of the bio and jump to it, or have the source.  That way you are not dependent upon just the name of the person who entered the source, but you know if you can go and reference it, or if it's on some restricted site, so ergo, pretty much worthless for additional research.

by Nae X G2G6 Mach 5 (54.5k points)
edited by Nae X
Great answer, Nae. Thank you!
Hi Nae, I like your suggestion a lot too! It's great when there are multiple sources that are used multiple times.  When there's just one source, like the member I mentioned is working with, it would still clutter up his footnotes with "See footnote 1" several times but on profiles I have multiple sources I'll definitely implement this idea too.
The problem with this approach is if someone adds new cited text between cited text #2 and cited text #3. If you don't remember to change the reference to "See footnote 2", then that footnote is pointing to the wrong reference.
Hi Nae,

You and I are doing very much the same thing, just by different means!

I also use the way I showed to go directly to book sources (no online link) and to go to online sources with the external link.  I'm going to play around with the way you do it.  It's a very interesting idea.
Oh, you assume too much.  I never thought of doing this until it was brought up by Eowyn.  LOL  and I haven't used it yet, but I am going to start.  :)  I've flagged this page so I can try the different ways discussed here.  But truly, I like the footnotes as a reference / source, which is how I use them.  I also use footnotes to add my personal comments, ie if something is in doubt, or if it's info that I have personally, etc.

OK.  I'll still play around with it.  smiley

Incidentally, we really are thinking along the same lines.  Unless the notes about the source or the information in the source are very extensive, I included them with the source entry.  If I have a long quote, usually a few paragraphs, I'll put that under === Notes ===, or another appropriate heading, in the bio section.  But two or three sentences, I'll just tack unto the source entry.

Absolutely everyone disregard that suggestion.


Another question:  Does anyone know an online coding course so that I can learn this easier and maybe come up with a definitive way to do this right? LOL, but seriously, if you know one, pass it on.

A comment regarding the following examples of footnotes that I do realize are only examples:


1. NY Archives, pp 3 viewable at xxxwebsite (this should probably show additional info regarding collection name and reference number: New York State Archives, Bruler collection, Folio 17, page 3. It is also a good idea to refrain from using abbreviations that might not be understood by all)

2. Family Bible (somewhere there should be info telling where that bible is: Doe Family Bible in possession of John Doe, Lancaster, PA)

Nae, I liked your idea very much.  I thought though, I would eliminate footnote 3 and use 2 more than once as the source.  To add 3, 4, 5 with a see 2 would then be unnecessary.  You can then have several sitations with the same pre-existing source footnote and still be clear. There would not be a need tfor any semblence of order, such as the first sitation gets 1 the second gets 2. This would also serve to shorten your list.  If you add a sitation that is not covered, then add in a new footnote to the bottom of the list.
+8 votes

I am finding this exchange really disturbing. Mostly because people are individually creating approaches to both the organization of the text and the citation of sources, resulting in a slew of different visual presentations that, frankly, I find really frustrating and difficult to follow. 

Most of y'all know that I've been beating the drum of developing at least some guidelines (if not standards) for organizing the text on profile pages-- especially profiles of the historically significant folks. This exchange about footnoting (or not) and how to do it, in my mind, further underscores the need for some sort of guidelines for all of us to follow. We are not creating profile pages for our own benefit but for the benefit of others; it behooves us then to make it easy for them to understand our work.

On sources, specifically, when I'm reading a profile, first off, I want to see sources for the information written. Where did this birth date come from? How do we know these were her parents? And I'd like to be able to click on a footnote number attached to a fact or claim that takes me to a very direct display of the source information. I also expect to see that source displayed in at least something approaching the AP style guide (and, due to my genealogy training, something that approaches the models in Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills). 

After no sources at all, few things bug me more than making it difficult to see/comprehend what source information is available. I have despised (possibly too strong a word) the S#1234 model being used at wikitree. I understand that it's related to how wikitree translates uploaded GEDCOM data, but where I can (and as my time permits), I go through the Puritan Great Migration profile pages and convert these S#1234 references to standard footnotes. (This assumes, of course, that there is ANY source information on said profiles; most of the time, there isn't.)

I also strongly believe, generally, in making it easy for a user to use a given system. If I click on a link, I expect it to take me directly to information about that link, not to another link. I do not want to have to click multiple times to find what I'm seeking. If I click on a footnote on a profile page, I expect to see information about the source, not an S#1234 reference. I want to be able to see very easily that the birth date came from Such-and-so Parish Record, London, England, volume 3, p 329, etc.; and then I want to be able to have an easy way to get back to where I was reading. This profile still needs work, but gets at what I'm describing: Amzi Doolittle Sr.

The industry standard of footnoting in print seems perfectly appropriate here in cyberspace also, with the additional benefit of online including hyper links to the actual source (or a digital representation of it).  Why we would want to make it more difficult and confusing to the reader is beyond me. And most of the examples included in the responses here do just that. In the absence of standards/guidelines specific to wikitree, it seems to make most sense to follow industry standards than each person coming up with their own preferred way of doing things. 

Related: Current use of the subheaders Sources and Footnotes contributes to the confusion. We should use one OR the other for cited references. Then use a separate subheader for identifying additional sources of information that are NOT already cited, where the reader can turn to for more information. Or something, but we need to figure that out, too. 


by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (767k points)

I agree with your thought process. I conceive of WikiTree to be, fundamentally, a way to publish genealogy research. it's what drew me to WIkiTree - not storaage, but as a place to make my research available to others in a format that I was fairly confident would remain free and accessible, and to publicly advance that research with likeminded individuals. As such, biographies should be arranged and footnoted in accordance with generally accepted standards in the field. I believe footnotes should include full citations in text, not just links, so that if a link goes dead, the information is still there. Every decision should be guided by making it easy for the reader. A standardized format could only help in this (and might take some friction out of collaboration).

A chronology such as you have presented for Amzi Doolittle, Sr. is one way. Informed by my "WikiTree apprenticeship" over the last year and plenty of rookie mistakes,  I have chosen a modified subject matter/chronological format - an "executive summary" followed by census history, marriage, children, professional history, death, etc. This is still very much a work in progress that I am conforming to what I have outlined above:

"The industry standard of footnoting in print seems perfectly appropriate here in cyberspace

I have nothing to add but thanks to Jilliane, and Ellen, and Elizabeth Shown Mills .

Less is more . KISS ( keep it simple ). Keep it on the same page .

signed , Maggie ( still learning after all these years )



I do agree, Jilllaine. But I'm not sure you are being fair to those who have been discussing this and who are making a variety of suggestions from which a good solution might be achieved.

My only quibble with your Dooloittle, is that I see what is labelled there as Footnotes as Sources. The rest might be described as Further Sources. I'd keep the heading Footnotes for any other comments that one might want to add, although that can be done perfectly well in the text.

Where I have differed from your approach so far (and I'm still prepared to change if needed) is the abbreviation of constantly repeated items and a separate link to a page to clarify them. That, I'm afraid, is for my own sanity. I'm still working on the relatively small number of profiles that I uploaded originally - five months on. I don't ever see the other 3000 making it to Wikitree unless I live as long as Methuselah.
I concur with your quibble, Martin.

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